Fear of a Blank Planet Review

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5 maj 2007, 21:01

Two years after Deadwing, Porcupine Tree are back with a new studio album. Last year saw the release of a live DVD, Arriving Somewhere But Not Here… which featured a concert filmed in Chicago. A great DVD for any Porcupine Tree fan! On the tour to support the DVD, PT started playing some new songs that they were working on. Fans returned from these concerts saying good things about the new material, in particular a monster twenty-minute track. The new album, Fear of a Blank Planet is out now, and this is my review!

FoaBP is quite different from previous PT albums although somewhat similar to In Absentia and Deadwing. There’s a definite progression and PT seem to be moving more into the metal side of things. Not that I mind! The title track starts off with a simple beat and guitar before exploding into crunching riffs and heavier drumming. Steven Wilson has one of the most beautiful and unique voices in music and listening to it layered over the heavy riffs is quite an experience. The title track talks about teens who start wasting their life away, mostly due to bad parenting and poor upbringing. Of course, society is blamed by Wilson too. It’s a very bleak song and has little hope in it. That’s actually the tone of most of the album and an indication of the direction in which PT is taking their music. Unlike Deadwing, there are no up-tempo songs other than FoaBP. Well, that’s not completely true. The near-eighteen-minute mostrosity, Anesthetize has a rocking middle section. The song starts off slow. I’m tempted to say that the opening is almost Radiohead-esque but of course, it’s not! After six minutes or so, the song picks up speed with some excellent drumming and guitar work. It continues it’s up-tempo run until the twelve-minute mark at which point it appears that the song is over. However, the rest of the song is a slow, reflective piece. It does sound like a whole different song though.

Alex Lifeson from Rush and Robert Fripp from King Crimson worked on this album with PT. Lifeson contributed a guitar-solo to Anesthetize while Fripp was responsible for soundscapes on Way Out of Here. The album flows as a single piece and the remaining songs are relatively slow and bleak. It ends with Sleep Together which intersperses quiet moments with loud electric guitar riffs to great effect. Following up Anesthetize is Sentimental which is somewhat like Collapse Light into Earth from IA. It also has a riff towards the end that is reminiscent of Trains, also from IA. But it’s a good song nonetheless and it treats different subject matter.

On the whole, this is another strong effort from Porcupine Tree. It paints and dark and grim picture of the world but does it without being emo about it. SW has a lovely voice and his string arrangements are terrific. Gavin Harrison’s drumming is powerful as always while Richard Barbieri provides some good atmospherics with his keyboards. I’ve always felt that Colin Edwin is underused as a bassist. He gets the odd song where the bass dominates guitar, but most of the time, he supplies straightforward bass lines. Maybe SW should consider upgrading his role! So, all in all, I like this album a lot. However, to me, Porcupine Tree hit their peak with 2002’s In Absentia. The album is chock-full of great songs! 2005’s Deadwing was also a good album and as much as I hate to say it, I think I like Deadwing more than FoaBP. But that’s more of a compliment to the earlier albums than it is a knock on the new one. I get to see PT live in less than three weeks and I am really excited. I had the chance to see them last October but they were playing the night before Tool and I had to prepare for an exam the following week. But I own the DVD they released so that kind of makes up for the missed opportunity!

Kommentarer

  • demiangillan

    Hey man! Such a cool review of my favourite 2007 record! (at the moment..), followed by Systematic Chaos! What do you think? Greetings from Argentina! Demian Fear of a Blank Planet

    14 aug 2007, 14:59
  • QFirecracker

    Yes, I like Systematic Chaos too. It's a good album but I feel Train of Thought and Octavarium were better! FoaBP is my favorite for this year as well. Do PT tour South America at all? Would be a shame if they didn't.

    15 aug 2007, 11:06
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